Masters of esoteric knowledge and miraculous practices, the lineage of the Karmapas is the earliest of all the recognized incarnate linages and is said to descend from the great Indian tantric master Tilopa through a chain that includes Naropa, Marpa, and Milarepa. The Karmapas are distinguished by their black crowns, said to have been woven by dakinis and symbolizing the activity of the buddhas. Unlike other Tibetan Buddhist lineage heads, each Karmapa has specific knowledge of his next reincarnation and leaves behind a "Last Testament," a letter to his disciples describing the place and circumstances of their future rebirth, the name of their parents, and so on. At a very young age each successive incarnation is often able to recognize himself as the Karmapa. In their recounting of the histories of the seventeen Karmapas, the authors reveal the universal and marvelous concealed in the everyday world. Their lively account, peppered with anecdotes, is the most comprehensive in the West on this subject, with information from Tibetan, Chinese, Mongolian, French, and English sources. There are over 50 illustrations/photos in color and black and white.
The Karmapa is the spiritual leader of the Karma Kagyu sect of Tibetan Buddhism. The present Karmapa, Rangjung Rigpe Dorje, is the sixteenth of the line which began with Dusum Khyenpa, the first Karmapa, in the twelfth century. Karma Thinley presents the biographies of all the Karmapas, based on his translations from numerous Tibetan sources. These biographies are not only histories of the training and teaching of these great teachers; they are also inspirational texts used to cultivate devotion in the practitioner. Accompanying the text are sixteen line drawings, based on the thangka paintings of the Karmapas at Rumtek monastery, the seat of the present Karmapa.
Presents a biography of the seventeenth Karmapa, discussing a history of his life, including his escape from Chinese occupied Tibet to northern India, and offering some of his teachings, wisdom, and accomplishments.
Marked by eloquent poetry, vigorous and extensive analysis, and heart instructions on breaking through the veils of confusion to independently experience the true nature of things, The Karmapa’s Middle Way contains the Ninth Karmapa Wangchuk Dorje’s comprehensive commentary on the Indian master Chandrakīrti’s seminal text, the Madhyamakāvatāra, or Entrance to the Middle Way. This commentary, Feast for the Fortunate, is the Ninth Karmapa’s abridgement of the Eighth Karmapa Mikyö Dorje’s masterpiece, the Chariot of the Takpo Kagyü Siddhas. In it, readers will find previously unavailable material on the Karmapas’ Middle Way view and a rare window into a philosophically charged era of Middle Way exposition in Tibetan Buddhism. It includes Chandrakīrti’s root text to the Entrance to the Middle Way and its commentary by the Ninth Karmapa; an introduction detailing the history of the Middle Way, key Middle Way philosophical principles, and the main points of each chapter of the text; an annotated translation of a famous excerpt of Chandrakīrti’s Lucid Words; and other useful appendices and reference materials.
The vast majority of monasteries in Tibet and nearly all of the monasteries in Mongolia belong to the Geluk school of Tibetan Buddhism, best known through its symbolic head, the Dalai Lama. Historically, these monasteries were some of the largest in the world, and even today some Geluk monasteries house thousands of monks, both in Tibet and in exile in India. In Building a Religious Empire, Brenton Sullivan examines the school's expansion and consolidation of power along the frontier with China and Mongolia from the mid-seventeenth through the mid-eighteenth centuries to chart how its rise to dominance took shape. In contrast to the practice in other schools of Tibetan Buddhism, Geluk lamas devoted an extraordinary amount of effort to establishing the institutional frameworks within which everyday aspects of monastic life, such as philosophizing, meditating, or conducting rituals, took place. In doing so, the lamas drew on administrative techniques usually associated with state-making—standardization, record-keeping, the conscription of young males, and the concentration of manpower in central cores, among others—thereby earning the moniker "lama official," or "Buddhist bureaucrat." The deployment of these bureaucratic techniques to extend the Geluk "liberating umbrella" over increasing numbers of lands and peoples leads Sullivan to describe the result of this Geluk project as a "religious empire." The Geluk lamas' privileging of the monastic institution, Sullivan argues, fostered a common religious identity that insulated it from factionalism and provided legitimacy to the Geluk project of conversion, conquest, and expansion. Ultimately, this system succeeded in establishing a relatively uniform and resilient network of thousands of monasteries stretching from Nepal to Lake Baikal, from Beijing to the Caspian Sea.
The first comprehensive overview of the life and writings of the Third Karmapa Rangjung Dorje, a revolutionary figure in the Kagyu tradition of Tibetan Buddhism. Known for his mastery of teachings across sectarian lines, his treatises on medicine and astrology, and his work as spiritual advisor to the last Yuan emperor of China, Rangung Dorje (1284-1339) is considered one of the most important and influential figures in Tibetan Buddhist history. First recognized as a tulku, or reincarnated Buddhist master, at the age of five, Rangjung Dorje became the Karma Kagyu lineage holder and instituted the reincarnation-based inheritance structure within Tibetan Buddhism that led to the formation of important lineages of tulkus such as the Dalai Lamas. In this groundbreaking work, Ruth Gamble synthesizes her extensive research on Rangjung Dorje into a sweeping biography covering his life, legacy, and important selected writings. Included in her discussions are Rangjung Dorje's synthesis of Dzogchen and Mahamudra in his writings, his devotion to spreading the teachings of Buddha nature, and several works never before translated into English. As the most comprehensive work available on Rangjung Dorje, this book is an indispensable resource for scholars and Buddhist practitioners alike.